Make a difference in the lives of grieving children and their families

How can you become a Healing Patch volunteer?

If you are interested in making a profound difference by becoming a Healing Patch volunteer, please apply online or contact Shalen Steinbugl, Volunteer Coordinator/Grief Specialist, at 814-947-7140.

For a printable version of the volunteer application, click here.

If you would like to apply online, click here.

Why are volunteers so essential?

Volunteers are the heart of the Healing Patch. Without them, these free services could not exist for the grieving children and families of our community. It takes a special type of person to absorb the tragic stories children share at the Healing Patch. While volunteers must understand they are unable to “fix” what has happened, volunteers are able to help bring hope and healing back into the life of a child.

Could you be a Healing Patch volunteer?

The qualities that lead an individual to be a volunteer in the first place — compassion, empathy, acceptance of others, flexibility, dedication and commitment — are the same qualities that enable volunteers to support families in their journey through grief.

Healing Patch volunteers must:

  • Be able to interact with people from different ethnic, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds.
  • Be emotionally present and actively listen to people who are dealing with emotional pain.
  • Have compassion for and provide support to grieving families, as well as to fellow volunteers.
  • Be responsible and dependable.
  • Be able to work in teams with other individuals.
  • Participate in and complete volunteer trainings.
  • Be available to participate in most scheduled meetings.
  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Complete TB testing and receive a flu vaccine (during flu season). New volunteers receive comprehensive training and have assistance in obtaining clearances.

What do Healing Patch volunteers do?

Healing Patch volunteers can serve as:

Group Facilitator: 

  • Plan & facilitate group activities/discussions as vehicles for sharing stories & memories, making connections among group members & communicating grief


  • Welcome family members & help with sign-in process
  • Help families settle in for the evening

Food Server:

  • Serve dinner to families & help where needed
  • Package left over food for families to take home

Sewing Projects:

  • Create teddy bears using clothing, pictures or other items that belonged to the person who died
  • Sew together pillowcases that each family creates in memory of their loved one

Special Supportive Roles:

  • Help Healing Patch staff with clerical duties
  • Assist at community events by raising awareness of children’s grief and the Healing Patch program
  • Assist with fundraising efforts
  • Help at special events with child care, registering participants, etc.

From Our Volunteers

Rebecca Keefe: "I became a Healing Patch volunteer because, like the children and families we serve, I lost my father early in life. I was only 10 when he died of a terminal illness. I felt alone and isolated and had no one to relate to. I was unable to grieve because I wanted to be a normal kid. Volunteering for the Healing Patch has brought me great joy in making sure that the children and families we serve to not feel alone and to find the peer support that they so desperately need. Surprisingly enough, being a volunteer has helped heal my inner child as well!"

Robin Kutchman: "Being a volunteer means being able to help a child deal with a death through encouraging them to communicate with other children who have also lost a loved one, that they are not alone and there are other children who are experiencing the same. Once that line of communication has been opened, the children are able to tell their story. Through smiles and tears, they bond and when you see this happening, it warms the heart because you see firsthand the program working. Since I have been a volunteer I have seen strong bonds being made that carry outside the group. I myself have experienced loss at a young age, as a youngster, as a pre-teen, as a teen and also as an adult. In a sense I feel that I was always meant to be the volunteer I am today. If you wonder if you can be a volunteer... the answer is yes you can!"

Tim Knob: "Having experienced loss at a young age, I can personally recognize the need for the Healing Patch Program. Devoting time as a Healing Patch volunteer has given me the opportunity to facilitate discussions among children who have experienced the loss of a loved one to death. Once these children are given the opportunity to openly discuss their loss in a safe environment, they quickly recognize the similarities they have with the other children in the room and develop instant connections. After witnessing that there are other children their age who share their anger, sadness, fear and worries, they realize they are not alone…and the healing process truly begins."